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If you should fay, that men cannot em- SERM. prove the outward advantages afforded to XIV. them, nor hearken to the divine calls, nor act according to the light vouchfafed to them, you would juftify them, and lay the blame of their wrong conduct upon God himself.
God in the Prophets laments the refractorie temper of the Jewish people, and reproves them for it: Now because ye have done all Jer. v. thefe works, faith the Lord: and I fpake unto fee allo you, rifing up early, and ye heard not: And ver. 25. I called, but ye answered not, therefore I will do unto this boufe, which is called by my name, ... as I bave done unto Skilob.
But if they had no ability to do good, they might have faid: "We would have "answered thee, when thou calledft: and "would have obeyed thy ftatutes: But we "had no power of our own, and thou didst not work effectually in us, and upon us." But that is a vindication, which no man can bring to God. For our Lord fays to the Jews: Ye will not come unto me, that ye might John v. have life. And lamenting the fad cafe of the 40. city of Jerufalem he fays: How often would Matt. I have gathered thy children together, as a ben
SERM. gathereth her chickens under her wings? And would not !
And in this fifteenth chapter of St. John : John xv. If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not bad fin: but now they have no cloak, or excufe for their fin. And afterwards: If I had not come, and done among them the works that no other man did, they had not had fin: that is, no fin in comparison of what they now have. Which fhews, that men may emprove by ad vantages: and therefore, where much is given, there much may be reasonably required.
All which things are fo clear, and do so manifeftly depend upon the fuppofition of men having a natural power in them to do good or evil; that it may be wondred, it fhould be queftioned. And to conteft and deny it, seems to be contrarie to all sense and reason: and to overthrow all notion of duty and obligation.
Against fo clear texts, as have been now produced, and against fuch cogent arguments, it must be in vain to allege texts, which, probably, in their true meaning, do not at all contradict these things.
Our Lord fays: No man can come unto SERM. me, except the Father which bath fent me XIV. draw him. But those words do not import John vi. immediate impulfes. The meaning is, "no 44.
man will come to me, and receive my pure, fublime, and spiritual doctrine, un"lefs he have firft gained fome juft apprehen"fions concerning the general principles of religion. And if a man has fome good no"tion of God, and his perfections, and his "will, as already revealed, he will come " unto me," If any man is well disposed: if he has a love of truth, and a desire to advance in virtue, and religious knowledge; he will readily hearken to me, and believe in
That this is the meaning, may with high degrees of probability be concluded from other texts, in which our Lord tells the Jews: If John vii. any man will do bis will, he shall know of the 17. doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I Speak of my-felf. And, Had ye believed Mofes, Ver. 46. would have believed me: and from many other texts to the like purpose. It is also evident from the words next following those, which we are confidering. It is writen in the John vi. Prophets: And they shall be all taught of God. 45.
SERM. Every man therefore that bath beard, and bath XIV. learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Which is faying, in other words, what was just obferved by us that if any man by ferious confideration, and particularly by attending to former revelations, has gained juft apprehenfions of God, he will come unto me, and fubmit himself to be my difciple, to be farther instructed by me.
Would any fay, that the neceffity of immediate and particular influences from Chrift himself is implied in this context: where he fays, that he is a vine, and his disciples branches, and that their bearing fruit depends as much upon influences from him, as the life and vigour of branches depend upon the fap derived from the root of a tree? It would be easie to answer, that the argument in the text is a fimilitude, not literal truth. Neither is Chrift, literally, a vine: nor are his, difciples, ftrictly speaking, branches. Men have a reasonable, intellectual nature, above animals, and vegetables. They are not governed by irresistible, and neceffarie, or me chanical powers. But it is found doctrine, and right principles, particularly the words of Chrift, which are the words of God, that
are their life, and may, and will, if attended SErm. to, powerfully enable them to practife good XIV. works, and to excell, and perfevere therein. Which brings me to the third and last obfervation for illuftrating this text and con
Prop. 3. They who understand, and have a ftrict regard to the true doctrine of Christ, the principles of the gofpel, will be able to practife good works, and abound therein, and be steady under difficulties: whereas, if they should difregard it, or corrupt it, they would perform nothing confiderable and excellent.
I think, this must be allowed to be the defign of this context. And I need not enlarge
Every confiderate perfon may perceive, that the gospel, as it teaches and inculcateş univerfal holineffe and virtue; fobriety, righteoufneffe, and godlineffe; fo it fets before men the strongest arguments, or affords the best helps for attaining real excellence. True religion and virtue are taught by Jefus Christ in all their fublimity and perfection : the worship of God in fpirit and truth: do